SC Reptile and Amphibians
Week ending 07-29-01
We have had mostly of rainy days this week. The rain has kept the reptiles in shelter more than usual, even the Box Turtles! I don't think I saw a single Box this week. The ground around the pond is alive with tiny Fowlers Toads and some tiny Cricket Frogs.
I did see an AOR Rough Green Snake. Win reports seeing one also. DORs included a couple of Black Rat Snakes and a Ringneck Snake. I also saw a DOR Gray Fox kit.
Joey identified the 3 dragonflies I posted in last week's notes: a Slaty Skimmer, an Eastern Amberwing, and a Widow Skimmer...all males.
My free time during the weekend was devoted to grass mowing and a family lunch/supper. The project at work which has consumed so much of my time since Spring is scheduled to be completed in the next 2 weeks. I hope to have time to do so "real" herping after then.
Week ending 07-29-01
Been a nice week, as far as the weather has been concerned, not too hot at all (but not too cool either). Seen the usual assortment of dead herps on the roads. At the well-lighted stores I frequent for invertebrates, I've seen good numbers of Royal Walnut Moths and Imperial Moths. I've also seen fair numbers of Assassin Bugs (Wheel Bugs) and Snail Eaters (Beetles). All very nice.
Monday (7-23-01), Went to the pond. Saw plenty of small frogs. Some of this year's emerged Green Tree Frog and also some VERY small Cricket Frogs. I wondered if perhaps they, small as they were, would ever be preyed upon by Dragonflies or Tiger Beetles? On the way back home 2 small fawns were in the road as I drove up. One ran across the road, the other across the yard. Pretty.
Tuesday (7-24-01), The weather was just right for an evening road cruise. I was just too lazy.
Wednesday (7-25-01), Two big, evil dogs jumped into our Goat pen and killed our little "Brownie". Sue was here but there was nothing she could do. They later took down two calves at a farm down the road. The dogs were then picked up by the owners and turned over to Animal Control with a signed order to be destroyed. Good. I'm just glad they didn't choose to attack a child. That evening I went out to the pond and "around the block". Just a Hercules Beetle (female) to show for my efforts.
Thursday (7-26-01), Set traps with a class, off campus. Got an AOR Eastern Garter Snake while running errands.
Friday (7-27-01), Checked the traps. Small Bream and large tadpole in the funnel trap. Three very large female Yellow-Bellied Sliders in the Turtle Basket. Marked and released. Traps were moved and re-baited and re-set.
Saturday (7-28-01), The Turtle Basket had been damaged and something had escaped (hole in the wire about the size of a large slider). The funnel trap had 3 large Diving Beetles and 3 large Redbellied Watersnakes. Two of the snakes were gravid females and we'll keep them to see how many babies they can drop. The other, a male, was released.
Sunday (7-29-01), Evening cruise around the block...........nothing but a crushed Hercules Beetle.
Oh well, maybe next week will be more exciting.
Week ending 07-22-01
Last Sunday evening, Win's fiancee, Hope, found a very tiny, newborn Anole lizard. It is very unusually patterned. He gave me a call and said he had found what look like a Brown Anole. It was found in Greenwood County (Piedmont, SC). The Brown Anole is a species from West Indies' which was introduced to Florida and is now abundant there. I had not heard of any being in South Carolina. I figured it was just a neonate Green Anole. Upon seeing it , I now believe it is a Brown Anole. It has not made a color change since being caught (Brown Anoles do not change color.) I have never seen an Anole as small as this one. Do Green Anoles have such patterning when first born? If anyone can confirm the species of this Anole, please let me know.
Friday evening (07-20-01), I made a cruise of local roads after dark. There were many Fowler's Toads of all sizes on the roads. I also saw a Green Frog, but no snakes.
Saturday morning (07-21-01) was splendid. While driving to do some errands I saw several interesting sights. First, I found a DOR Northern Brown Snake. Then I came upon a group of about a dozen pullet Wild Turkeys warming themselves in the road. I had to stop and wait for them to move away. As I drove past my river pasture, I noticed a flash of white about 800 yards away. I pullout my binoculars and saw that a Red-tailed Hawk was eating something in the grass. I thought maybe it had just made a kill until I noticed the Turkey Vulture making low sweeps across that area of the field. It appeared to me that the hawk had route the vulture from its feed. The field had been mowed about 2 days before, so I guessed something had been killed by the mower. I drove into the field to investigate. Of course the hawk and vulture departed. I found the cleaned bones of a deer fawn. The fawn probably had relied upon camouflage and stealth too much. Near the bones, I found an adult male Box Turtle. Could it have been nibbling on the bones also? I saw a couple of maggots crawling on its shell.
Continuing with my errands, I saw an AOR Garter Snake and then further along, a DOR Corn Snake. I usually take the scenic routes, but having already made such interesting observations, I diverted to the very scenic routes. Passing by a beaver pond, I saw 2 cows up to their waists in the water muching on the grasses. The day was not yet hot, so this grass must have been tasty. The sights slowed after this. My last "find" was a DOR Copperhead.
Sunday (07-22-01) was another beautiful day. My wife and I had kept our 6.5 month old granddaughter overnight. We took her into Laurens to visit her Great Grandmother. On the way in I drove past a Mourning Dove on the side of the road. It did not fly away but went into a broken wing act to lure the truck away. I stopped and tried to photo it. It was on the shaded side of the road. I tried to steer it into the sunlight, but it decided to fly away instead. It must have had a fledgling in the grass just off the road.
I drove back home about mid afternoon. I was on a busy highway with vehicles behind me and coming in the opposite lane when I saw a Black Racer scrambling to cross the road in front of me. All I could do was swerve to miss the snake. Unfortunately the first on-coming car did not miss.
It was still such a good day that I set about the farm with my camcorder to see what might turn up. I turned over the same coverboard which Win had checked last Sunday. Underneath was the very same Redbelly Water Snake which Win had caught and I had photographed. It made not attempt to flee, so I set up my camcorder and took its picture again. Dragonflies were darting about the pond. I took pictures of 3 different kinds. Joey will have to ID the species for me.
Week ending 07-22-01
Last week's report included Monday (7-16-01) with fun and travel home from Kentucky. One bit of excitement from that trip is that several of the Tiger Beetles we found I can't ID. With a little advice from a colleague, they may prove to be Cicindela macra. This would be out of range, but my colleague also suggested that it could be something new. Cool. Gotta get them to him for positive identification and documentation.
Tuesday (7-17-01), My wife and I have been married 18 years! Happy Anniversary to Us! Also her Birthday. Happy Birthday Darling! At work I had a chance to collect a few Dragonflies at a local park. Saw one Tiger Beetle (rufiventris).
Wednesday (7-18-01), Changed around some of the big aquariums in my classroom. Saw the new Jurrasic Park movie (love those Dinos). Pretty good.
Thursday (7-19-01), Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle (Pseudolucanus) was on the store-front, as I stopped on my way to work.
Friday (7-20-01), Off work, but it was cool and rainy. I also had a lot of family-type errands to run. Did notice a lot of Box Turtles got hammered on the roads.
Saturday (7-21-01), Traveled to Sumter to see some relatives. Stopped and snagged a few Dragonflies at a wetland area near town. Saw a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo.
Sunday (7-22-01), Visited Sumter's SWAN LAKE, and saw the expected birds, begging for bread. Also saw some nice Dragonflies (expected species) and Turtles. There were Yellow-Bellied Sliders, Eastern River Cooters, and several Gulf Coast Spiny Softshells (small males and huge females) that were also begging from the park visitors. On the way home, we stopped at several places along the highway where it crosses the Wateree basin. We saw the expected Dragonflies, and in one spot caught a Tiger Beetles (punctulata) and in another found several Tiger Beetles (repandas). After getting home and settled, I took off again, with the idea of finally catching a snake in Chester County. I cruised a beautiful section of road in some national forest land, and found: deer, rabbits, Whip-Poor-Will, toads, mice, bats, and NO snakes. Bummer. Will try again another day.
Week ending 07-15-01
Mid Summer is now at hand. With all the rain we have been getting, the world of the Piedmont is very lush. A broken lawnmower for a week can become a crisis. The days have been very humid and hot. At night the Katydids sound like freight trains.
I am still pretty much limited to just seeing road kills on my way to and from work. DORs have included a large Eastern Kingsnake, which someone had not only runover, but had stopped and removed the head. I also saw a DOR Corn Snake and a Black Rat Snake.
We had a family picnic at the farm on Sunday. Win caught 2 Redbelly Water Snakes on the pond bank, one under the canoe and the other under a coverboard. The first one left its teeth marks on his hand. He was more careful with the second.
Last week, I posted of the website a picture of an Eastern Milk Snake which had been found in NY State. This week Steve Bennett sent me a picture of a beautiful Eastern Milk x Scarlet King which had been found in Oconee County.
Hope, Win's fiancee, brought me a Red-Eared Slider to make pictures of. Although not native to SC, Red-Eareds are often sold as baby turtles. I posted the picture in my eclectic collection of pictures of non-SC native herps. This collection can be accessed by clicking on "Herps Worldwide" at the bottom of the home page.
Week ending 07-15-01
Quite a week!
Monday (7-9-01), My son and I took off for the mountains of NC. In the Beautiful Pisgah National Forest, we found Red Admiral and Diana Fritilary Butterflies common. We saw a few Dragonflies (Whitetail Skimmer), and no Tiger Beetles. We saw no Reptiles either. We snorkeled in the cool clear water and saw various Trout, Hogsuckers, Redhorse Suckers, Darters, and Crayfish. In one area I snorked along turning rocks on the bottom. Each time silt boiled up and clouded the view but soon cleared. At one rock the silt cloud rose as usual but from it came a true beast! The grandfather of American Salamanders! Hellbender!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It swam up from the silt and away, faster than I expected, and was gone! 15 inches of salamander in front of my face and gone in a flash. Still quite a thrill! Oh, my son found some Blackbelly Salamanders under rocks but they seemed very small when thinking about the Hellbender. Mammals? Saw a few Groundhogs on the drive home. Fun day!
Tuesday (7-10-01), Snake/Lizard talk to some kids at a Day Camp in Union, SC.
Wednesday (7-11-01), DOR male Mole King near work. Tagged and bagged and frozen.
Thursday (7-12-01), Another Snake/Lizard talk at the Day Camp in Union.
Friday (7-13-01), Snake/Lizard talk for the Irish Childrena's Peace Program in Spartanburg. WOW! About 25 Irish boys and girls ages 8-11 makes for a very exciting talk.
Saturday (7-14-01), Up early, throw bags and gear and coolers in the car and off to Kentucky! We had some family time off and wanted to go somewhere different. Okeefenokee and the SC coast (our usual destinations) would just be SO hot. We wanted to go somewhere cooler. We stopped in Tenn here and there on the way and found a Two-Lined Salamander, caught a Spot-Winged Glider, and saw a Black Saddlebag and Widow Skimmer. We pressed on up I-75 and visited Cumberland Falls State Park. Caught some Tiger Beetles (still checking on IDs) at the falls. Went to Corbin for food/hotel. Behind our hotel, I found American Toads and other Tiger Beetles (Cicindela rufiventris).
Sunday (7-15-01), We visited a recreation area at Lake Laurel near Corbin. There were tons of Tiger Beetles (Cicindela repanda) and great Dragonflies (Black Shoulder Spinylegs, Widow Skimmers, Whitetail Skimmers, Twelve Spotted Skimmers, Spot-Wing Gliders, and others!). I also found a Black Racer but lost him in the chase. Saw plenty of Fence Lizards and Skinks. Found a DOR Black Ratsnake. Back at Cumberland Falls, we checked into our cabin, and I caught another Tiger Beetle (C. punctulata). Our evening was completed with great BBQ at "Sonny's" in Somerset. I had the combo platter with BBQ Beef, BBQ Pork, and BBQ Ribs (with fries, beans and garlic toast). Great supper! We had skunks around our cabin at the state park when we got back. I would have grabbed one, but you know, been there, done that.
Monday (7-16-01), Up early and checked some old houses, stores, etc for snakes (still need to catch a snake in Ky). I found a skink with 10 eggs, a shrew, and a Box Turtle. Found DOR Eastern Garter, Northern Watersnake, and Northern Ringneck Snake. I did get to catch my first snake in Kentucky: a Northern Ringneck. Not a new species for me but good enough! Then, I found another snake; Black Kingsnake (a variety I had caught in TN in 1997). Cool. Raccoons were outside the cabin and hotel as we ate and checked out. Groundhogs were along the road on the way home. Nice trip. I had hopes for a Eastern Milksnake but no such luck. Flipped a lot of rocks and debris, just no Milksnake, but I have an excuse to return and hunt another day!
Week ending 07-08-01
Still spending most all my time working, even over the 4th. I have seen several AOR Box Turtles and Mud Turtles this week. No live snakes. DORs include several Black Rat Snakes, an Eastern Kingsnake, and a Garter Snake.
I have answered several email requests for snake ID in the last couple weeks from persons in the nearby mountain areas where one of the possible IDs has been the Eastern Milk Snake. Unfortunately, I have not had a picture of an Eastern Milk Snake on the web site. This week I was really excited to find an ID request with an attached picture. The snake was an Eastern Milk! The specimen was found on the floor of a laboratory building in Buffalo, NY. The writer has graciously allowed me to use the picture on the web site.
One of the interesting sights I found while on my beach vacation last week was the "School Boat" for children residing on Sandy Island. Sandy Island is between the Waccamaw River and the Little PeeDee River. There are no bridges to it. The School Boat ferries students between the island and a boat dock just off US Highway 17, near Huntington Beach State Park.
Week ending 07-08-01
This week has been nice, hot with some storms here and there. Animals have been active, but my schedule has not always allowed for outdoor time. Last week I forgot to mention that we had found our first Skink hatchlings of 2001. The babies were from one of the 3 local "Blue Tail" varieties (Broad-Headed, Five-Lined, and Southeastern Five-Lined) that all look alike as hatchlings. We didn't bother to catch any and find out which species they were. Just nice to see successful breeding. Nice to know the Fire Ants didn't get the eggs. Also, on Saturday (6-30-01) Blue Jays had a Ratsnake cornered at work when I arrived at 7AM. I did not catch him, he was about 50 feet up in a Poplar tree, but it was nice to see him, and have the Blue Jays point him out to me.
Monday (7-2-01), Did yard work (ugh) and found two more Yellow Jacket hives in the brushy areas of the yard. I try to like ALL wild animals, I really do, but I hate Yellow Jackets, and it is a hate I do not really want to get over. I like to hate them, and I enjoy killing them and killing their loved ones (friends and relatives) and will likely continue to do so.
Tuesday (7-3-01), Another Ratsnake was in a tree on campus, located by the bird calls, but again too high to catch. We had to go off campus, and made a stop at a place I know. We turned a big piece of fabric/carpet of some sort, and found underneath a Black Racer (got away) and a Black Ratsnake. The ratsnake was loaded with a recent meal and we gently let it go into the bushes. For the evening drive, we had rains, and I found a Midland Watersnake and Black Ratsnake, AOR.
Wednesday (7-4-01), Work, and then family time at the lake. Then, a 21 year old fellow in Laurens who keeps snakes was bitten by his "pet" Pakistani Black Cobra. He had been trying to take a picture and was bitten. He secured the snake and called for EMS. It was quickly decided to air-lift him to Greenville, but in Greenville antivenin was not available and none could be located and brought in. It was decided to send him to Miami for treatment. He was in pretty bad shape when he got there. Proper antivenin was given and he has since made a nice recovery. He has also made the news, and lots of pretty loud opinions have been voiced about exotic pets. I expect legislation soon.
Thursday (7-5-01), At work we found a Southern Ringneck Snake under tin. Later spent some time with one of my good friends. We saw some nice dragonflies, but did not try too hard to catch any of them.
Friday (7-6-01), On campus with students, we found a young Trapdoor Spider, Six-Spotted Tiger Beetles, and tons of Cicindela rufiventris (Tiger Beetles). Later we went off campus to the pond and found a Redbelly Snake and caught a lot of nice dragonflies but none we had not already collected. We saw, but failed to get, a beautiful Golden-Winged Skimmer, and I hope to keep trying for him.
Saturday (7-7-01), Found 2 crushed Hercules Beetles in front gas stations early in the morning and at work the boys brought me a nice male they had picked up outside. Great beetles.
Sunday (7-8-01), Nap after Church. Evening road cruise around the block. My best find? Ice cream sandwich at the little store in Cross Anchor!
Enjoying the summer.
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